Colonel Frederick C. Peck died on February 20, 2021, at Cambridge Senior Living in Rice Lake, WI, after battling Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Dementia.
Fred was a remarkable and gifted man – a “Renaissance Man.” Athlete, scholar, intellectual, author, sportsman, humorist and great storyteller, and loving father, brother, and husband. He mentored and inspired others to be the very best they could be. Many Marines, friends and family have remarked that he was one of the best they’d ever had the honor and pleasure to serve with or know. His humor was as quick and subtle as Mark Twain or Benjamin Franklin, and his smile radiant albeit a bit mischievous.
He is survived by his wife, Joanne Schilling, of Birchwood, WI; his brother Michael Peck, of Chestertown, MD; his sons Scott Peck (Jonathan Wu) of Odenton, MD, and Joshua Peck (Danielle), and grandchildren Aidan, Julien, Isaac, and Charlotte, of St. Louis, MO. He is preceded in death by his parents Lincoln and Dorothy Peck; his brothers Kelly Peck and Charles Peck; and his son Ryan Peck.
Born on September 25, 1948, in Baltimore, MD, he attended the U.S. Naval Academy, and was commissioned a second lieutenant in the U. S. Marine Corps upon his graduation in 1970. One of his proudest moments at the Academy was winning the Brigade Boxing Championship while only in his plebe (1st) year there. Two years later he was awarded the coveted Spike Webb Outstanding Boxer Award.
During his 27 years in the Marine Corps, he was a hard-charging officer, who excelled at sports, academics, and life in general. He served as an infantry platoon commander, company executive office, and company commander. He also served as an instructor and academic officer at the Staff Noncommissioned Officers Academy at Camp Lejeune, NC.
In 1976, he was selected as an Olmsted Scholar and attended the Institute of European Studies, Free University of Brussels, Belgium, graduating in 1978 with high distinction. Additionally, he earned a Master of Science degree in education from the University of Southern California.
After 10 years in the infantry, Fred transitioned into the field of public affairs for the rest of his career. Highlights include his service as an aide-de-camp to President-elect Ronald Reagan (Dec 1980- Jan 1981); duty in Los Angeles (1984-1987) where he was technical adviser on numerous TV/film production, including “Heartbreak Ridge” and “Return to Iwo Jima;” and service as the spokesperson for Joint Task Force operations in Somalia (Nov 1992-May 1993). Perhaps his favorite story was that of getting to kiss Jamie Lee Curtis’ hand in the final scene of Arnold Schwartzenegger’s movie True Lies – over 14 takes!
He was an honor graduate of the Basic School (1971), and the Amphibious Warfare School (1979), at Quantico, VA. He also graduated from the Defense Language Institute, Monterey, CA (1976); the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, VA (1984); and the National War College, Washington, D.C. (1988).
His last tour of duty was in Washington, D.C., where he served as the Deputy Director of the Division of Public Affairs, Headquarters, U.S. Marine Corps, until his retirement as a colonel in 1996.
Colonel Peck’s military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with Gold Star in lieu of second award, Defense Meritorious Service Medal, Navy Commendation Medal, Navy Achievement Medal, Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal, Vietnam Service Medal and the Humanitarian Service Medal.
After retirement, Fred’s “second career” began when he and his wife, retired Lieutenant Colonel Joanne Schilling, moved to Almont, CO. He pursued downhill skiing, hunting deer and elk, acting in local community theatre, being active in the Rotary and Junior Achievement organizations, and serving on the county planning commission, including as the Chairman.
In 2005, they moved to Birchwood, WI, where he continued to be just as active in a myriad of activities including enjoying their wooded acreage with trails on which to hike, snowshoe and cross-country ski, church activities, and community theatre.
Beginning in 2010, these activities progressively slowed down as Fred faced various health issues: spinal fusion, double breast mastectomies, and finally the diagnoses of Parkinson’s Disease and Lewy Body Disease in 2016. In December 2019, Fred was admitted to St. Croix Hospice care and in January 2020, moved to Cambridge Senior Living to receive care from more people than just Joanne – she says “the colonel needs a platoon” not just one person! – and to be safe. The care and love given by all the staff of those two organizations are greatly appreciated by the family.
Fred was highly respected, admired, and loved by his fellow Marines and service members, civilians, family and friends. He was a rare man and truly will be missed.
His brain has been donated to the Brain Support Network, for research at Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, FL. Inurnment will be at Northern Wisconsin Veterans National Cemetery, Spooner, at a later date. Memorial donations in Fred’s name may be made to: Brain Support Network, PO Box 7264, Menlo Park, CA 94026; or to St. Croix Hospice, 7755 3rd Street N., Oakdale MN 55128.
Updated: February 23, 2021
Curator: Ed Moore